Topic: Principals & School Leaders


Principals & School Leaders

In the last century, school principals were expected to focus primarily on management and administration. Today, schools need instructional leaders who improve the learning and achievement of both students and teachers in their schools. SREB offers school improvement, professional development and technical assistance to serve this objective.

Blog post Matthew SmithSREB Research Associate

In This Together: How States Foster Safe Learning Environments

As legislatures convene regular sessions, we at SREB have observed an uptick in bills focused on school safety. Some propose dramatic changes in the way school districts hire and train security personnel, develop emergency plans, or address students’ mental and emotional health. Others make technical changes to standing laws in order to lower the barriers districts face in creating safe learning environments.


Classroom Time
Educator Effectiveness Spotlight

Competing priorities and increasing responsibilities mean principals are finding it harder to spend quality time in classrooms, in addition to formal observations. One Tennessee principal is navigating these challenges in thoughtful and productive ways.

Blog post Jon Schmidt-DavisDirector, SREB Learning-Centered Leadership Program
Michelle Lampert

Unsung Heroes of America’s Schools
Assistant principals are critical to school success

Assistant principals supervise the hallways and the lunchrooms. They observe teachers and coordinate testing. They serve as the first line of response for discipline referrals, guide wayward students with humor and compassion — and do their best to make their principals look good.

It’s a lot, but most assistant principals truly love their jobs and know that what they do is critical to their school’s success.

Blog post By Jon Schmidt-Davis

Highly Qualified Turnaround Leaders Emerge in Florida

The Florida Turnaround Leaders Program is a big hit in Florida that will ultimately result in better principals, better schools, and higher-performing students. “This program has provided the best professional development I have ever experienced in my 25 years as an educator,” said one participant.

Publication Jon Schmidt-Davis 201244 Pages(12V10)

Turnaround High School Principals
Recruit, Prepare and Empower Leaders of Change

The publication takes an in-depth look at the kinds of principals required to turn around the lowest-performing 5 to 10 percent of public high schools in America. Schools stuck at the bottom of the performance chart need first-rate principals with the motivation, vision, skill and commitment to make dramatic improvements in schools and student achievement. The report describes how we can identify, prepare and support these turnaround principals.


Publication Jon Schmidt-Davis 201152 Pages(11V19)

Who’s Next?
Let's Stop Gambling on School Performance and Plan for Principal Succession

Each year, more than 18,000 principals in our nation’s public schools leave their jobs. Decades of school leadership research make it clear that these vacancies must be filled immediately and must be filled with school leaders who have the strength of character, the knowledge about learning and the leadership savvy to thrive in what is arguably education’s most challenging job. But who is next?

Publication 2 Pages

Leading School Change to Improve Student Achievement

This module helps school teams understand the different human and organizational factors that impact a school’s ability to implement and sustain meaningful change. Teams identify a vision of adaptive change — change that is deeply rooted in the culture — then work on applying a framework for sustainable implementation.


LCLP Module Summary Brenda Dean

Using Root Cause Analysis to Reduce Student Failure

Changing classroom and school practices to improve student learning also require changes to a school’s culture. Culture also impacts how and what improvements are made to benefit student learning, and data can be a powerful lever to explore inequities, expose systemic biases, and change beliefs and practices needed to improve the achievement of disenfranchised students. Participants gain analytical tools to uncover the real problems school leaders need to address to close success gaps in schools.

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LCLP Module Summary JoAnn Brown

Using Data to Focus Improvement

Schools that successfully improve student achievement regularly use data to guide decisions about instruction, student support and professional development. Participants learn Easy-to-use processes are taught, and participants learn how data are a vital part of the school improvement process.

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LCLP Module Summary Diane Ricciardi

Providing Focused and Sustained Professional Development

Professional development is a powerful tool for changing schools, yet professional development is frequently done poorly and results in little or no positive change. Participants examine the characteristics of professional development in high and low-performing schools; learn how to structure successful learning for the staff; and learn how schools can create a professional learning community.

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LCLP Module Summary Carol McGrevin

Mentoring School Leaders in Competency-Based Internship and Induction Experiences

Mentors are guides on an intern’s journey, and the most effective mentors are those who engage in a process of discovery with their protégés. This program builds skills in administrators who are serving as mentors to aspiring principals. Participants learn the roles, skills, processes and tools that effective mentors use to help develop school leaders who make a difference in student achievement.

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LCLP Module Summary Harriet Dawson

Creating a High-Performance Learning Culture

Schools cannot improve when the culture does not support school improvement. Often in the push to improve quickly, the school’s culture is forgotten. Participants learn what culture is and why it must be cultivated; what roles leaders play in growing the culture; and what tools and strategies are available to help leaders foster a culture that supports improvement, high expectations and the well-being of students.

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LCLP Module Summary Carol McGrevin

Communicating to Engage Stakeholders in School Improvement

Effective communication is the key to an improving school community. Often the best intentions are sidetracked by poor communication. Participants learn how to communicate effectively, how to decide who needs to know and why, how to and involve people at the right times, and the impact that communication has on schools and quality instruction.

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Survey of Communication Skills and Style

LCLP Module Summary Dianne Olivier

Coaching for School Improvement

Schools undergoing transformational school improvement processes often need external coaches to help them through the process. Participants learn how to add value to various school improvement situations, using a variety of strategies and techniques.


LCLP Module Summary Diane Ricciardi

Building Instructional Leadership Teams That Make a Difference

Schools that improve and sustain improvement use teams to lead school reform. A crying need exists for teachers to lead by taking a more formal and explicit role in the supervision and improvement of instruction. Participants learn leadership skills and collaboration, the parameters of teamwork, how to design and organize teams, and how to provide the training they will need to be effective.

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LCLP Module Summary Harriet Dawson

Assessing Academic Rigor to Ensure Grade-Level Proficiency and College Readiness

Although school leaders generally recognize the importance of rigor, many are not thoroughly and accurately measuring, monitoring and encouraging it. Too often, rigor is a vague concept that means instruction is hard, tough and sometimes boring. In this module, school leaders learn how to use tools and strategies to determine whether rigor exists in the school.

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Publication 201084 pages(07V10)

We Know What Works in the Middle Grades
Smart District Leadership Can Make It Happen

In this report, SREB compares schools in the MMGW initiative that have more fully implemented the MMGW research-based design with others that have been defined as low-implementation schools. The report shows clear differences in the achievement levels and academic success of these two groups of schools. The report also shows that dynamic, sustainable middle grades reform is far more likely to occur when district leaders, principal leaders and teacher leaders are all committed to the same improvement goals and means of achieving them.

Publication Betty Fry, Gene Bottoms and Kathy O'Neill200544 pages(05V02)

The Principal Internship
How Can We Get It Right?

This report presents the results of SREB’s survey to measure the quality of internships provided to aspiring principals in university leadership programs in the Southern states. The survey probed the extent to which principal interns are required to observe, participate in and lead activities that focus on improving curriculum, instruction and student achievement.

Blog post By Jon Schmidt-Davis

Florida Middle School Creates Success Academy

Pinellas Park Middle School is about as challenging a school as you can find in Florida. The state has assigned it a grade of D for the past several years. All of its students receive free lunch. Twenty-three percent of its students have already been in some form of drop-out prevention program prior to enrolling at Pinellas Park.

Publication August 201064 Pages(10V16)

The Three Essentials
Improving Schools Requires District Vision, District and State Support, and Principal Leadership

This report describes the findings of SREB’s study of the role of the district office in creating the working conditions that principals need to improve teacher effectiveness and student performance. The Three Essentials of school improvement described in the report emerged from close observations of the inner workings of seven school districts, as SREB’s Learning-Centered Leadership Program sought to answer this essential question: What are the conditions school districts can create that make it possible for principals to be more effective in leading school improvement?

Publication 2 Pages

Developing Collaborative University-District Partnerships to Prepare Learning-Centered Principals

The purpose of a university-district partnership for the preparation and development of principals is to provide all schools leadership that results in improved student learning. In order to be successful, both parties in the partnership will have to relinquish control over areas which have traditionally been the sole responsibility of one of the parties.


Publication 2 Pages

Developing Internship Programs for School Leaders

Teams of participants attending this training will be guided through the decision-making process needed to plan and implement an effective internship program for principal candidates. From research and current literature, they learn recommended practices for building the types of field-based experiences that help develop school leaders that make a difference in student achievement. This training is based on the idea that professional development should include authentic, real-world application.

Publication 2 Pages

Personalizing School to Engage Students in Learning

This module helps participants and school teams engage in deep reflection about extra help, advisement, engaging instruction, and student and family relationships, all with the goal of improving the participants’ ability to work in ways that motivate students and make learning meaningful for them. Participants examine the research, apply it via self-assessment, examine case examples of various practices and create plans for improvement.


Publication 2 Pages

Organizing Resources for a Learning-Centered School

This module helps participants understand how elements of the school environment (time, space, people and financial resources) impact student achievement. They learn that they have the ability as leaders to shape the learning environment in ways that promote student achievement.


Publication Cheryl Gray, Betty Fry, Gene Bottoms and Kathy O'Neill200796 Pages(07V05)

Good Principals Aren’t Born – They’re Mentored
Are We Investing Enough to Get the School Leaders We Need?

Good Principals Aren’t Born – They’re Mentored draws on survey data from a sample of seasoned principal mentors who have guided interns in university-based principal preparation programs in the SREB region. This report lays out a course of action for policymakers and leaders of universities and school districts to ensure that every beginning principal comes to the job fully prepared to make a difference in teaching and learning.